Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0) vs. Indianapolis Colts (0-0), Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Sunday, September 13th, 1:00PM ET, CBS
By Darin Zank of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Jaguars +7/Colts -7
Over/under: 44 1/2
Bet this game at a sportsbook that offers a free half point on all football bets every Thursday: Sportbet
AFC South Division rivals go at it right off the bat this season when the Jacksonville Jaguars, coming off a disappointing 2008, travel to Hoosierland to take on the Indianapolis Colts Sunday afternoon at the Oil Can.
Most football sportsbooks have seen the line on this game flitter back and forth between Indy -6 and -7 in recent days, with the total rising from 44 to 44 . The Colts are also listed at around -320 on most moneylines, with the Jags getting +260 to win outright as dogs on the road.
Jacksonville entered last season with high expectations. But injuries, especially along the offensive line, put a damper on things quickly, and after a 3-3 start, the Jags won just two of their last 10 games to finish 5-11. However, a closer look reveals that J-Ville’s first five losses last year all came by seven points or less, and the Jaguars only got outgained, on average, by 12 YPG on the season.
Indianapolis went into last year as the five-time defending division champions, but with QB Peyton Manning at less than 100% after missing most of the preseason rehabbing from knee surgery, started 3-4. Then the Colts clicked, and they won their last nine games in a row to post their sixth-straight 12-plus win season. But it came to an end in a Wild Card-round overtime loss out in San Diego.
Indianapolis then lost head coach Tony Dungy to retirement over the off-season. He’s been replaced by Jim Caldwell, who served as an offensive assistant here for the previous seven seasons.
These two teams split their two meetings last season. The Jags won at Indy 23-21 in week 3, but the Colts won in Jacksonville 31-24 in week 16. Jacksonville outgained and outrushed Indianapolis in both games, and should have swept the Colts. But the Jaguars coughed up a 10-point third quarter lead in the second game, and lost on an interception return score with just under five minutes to play.
J-Ville covered the spread that first game last year vs. Indy as four-point underdogs, but the Colts covered the second game as 5 1/2-point road chalk. And both games went over the totals.
The over/unders went 7-9 in Jags games last season, which averaged 42 total points. The O/Us went 8-8 in Colts games, which also averaged 42 points.
After a four-year run that saw Jacksonville go 39-23-2 against the pointspreads, they went a pocket-picking 4-12 ATS last season, 3-5 ATS on the road. Indy, meanwhile, went 8-8 vs. the numbers last year, but just 2-5 ATS as favorites at home.
With the injuries on offense, the Jags dropped from ranking seventh in total yardage in 2007 to 20th last year, at 319 YPG. They also ranked 18th in rushing at 111 YPG, 16th in 3rd-down conversions at 41%, but a respectable ninth in average time-of-possession at 31:29. On defense, J-Ville ranked 17th last season at 331 YPG, 13th vs. the run at 107 YPG. But their -7 turnover margin ranked 25th in the league.
The Colts ranked 15th in the league in total offense last year at 336 YPG, 31st in rushing at 80 YPG, first in 3rd-down efficiency at 50% but 26th in TOP at 28:38. Defensively, Indy ranked 11th overall at 311 YPG, 24th vs. the run at 123 YPG. And their +9 turnover ratio ranked fourth-best in the league.
On the NFL futures betting markets, Indy is listed at around +175 to win the AFC South this season, +700 to win the AFC championship and +1,500 to win the Superbowl. The Colts have also been pegged with a regular-season wins over/under of 10.
Jacksonville is getting upwards of +500 at many online sportsbooks to win the AFC South this year, +2,500 to win the conference title and +6,000 to win Super Bowl 44 in February. The Jags have also been tagged with a season wins total of eight.
Zman’s Pick: This isn’t the Colts team of old. They PROBABLY win straight up, but Jacksonville stays within seven or may even win straight up.